In England, where retail development is often trumped by concerns about preserving open spaces and architectural heritage, the massive Bluewater center, which sprawls over a former chalk pit in North Kent, continues to infuriate citizens. Now, environmentalists, too, are outraged that David Higgins, who as managing director of Lend Lease Group played a role in building the much-maligned mall complex in 1999, has been named head of the government agency charged with revitalizing inner cities.

His appointment as chief executive of English Partnerships comes after a parliamentary review expanded the agency's role to include promoting an urban renaissance and new, ecologically sustainable communities.

Opponents argue that Higgins' Bluewater track record shows his distaste for town centers and “green” real estate policies. Bluewater, shaped like a giant triangle, encompasses three malls — Guild Hall, Rose Gallery and Thames Walk — with more than 320 stores in 1.6 million square feet of space.

Meanwhile, the Bluewater project continues to draw shoppers and new development. Bluewater architect Eric Kuhn, has been hired by English developer Land Securities to design 7,250 executive homes surrounding the 250-acre shopping complex.

Guardian critic Jonathan Glancey argues that the project “has no ultimate purpose beyond stupefying consumption.”